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Books to read about Japan

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We are going to spend the summer in the Kansai area. SInce I have only twice visited Japan for the briefest of stays in predictable places -- Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka (with daytrips to Kobe and Nara) -- I would like to read as much as possible before we go. In English.

Research on old threads has got me started. Thanks to tahl for recommending LEARNING TO BOW and to Don for suggesting UNTANGLING MY CHOPSTICKS. Both were fun to read and instructive.

Moving along, I am wondering whether to follow the James Clavell road deep into SHOGUN (etc.) territory or whether to read a variety of shorter books. Also, do folks still recommend Booth's ROADS TO SATA, or only read in tandem with Ferguson's HITCHING RIDES WITH BUDDHA?

There is only so much reading time between now and June. Thanks for helping me cull the list. I am interested in memoirs, fiction, non-fiction...anything that those of you who are knowledgeable about Japan have loved or can vouch for.

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